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Greg Oden

Burning Question #14: Where Do the Blazers Go From Here?

When we initially compiled the list of 20 Burning Questions, I came up with two separate ideas for the Portland Trail Blazers. The first was the sure-to-be-repeated “how will Brandon Roy be used this year?” The second was a hopeful “is this the year we see the Greg Oden monster?”¬†Well, fast forward a couple of weeks and those questions have been answered with “not at all,” and “no, are you out of your mind,” respectively.
Faced with the exciting possibility of not being able to ever walk again, Roy and his cartilage-starved knees retired from the NBA. Just 27 years old, he will be remembered as the face of the post-Jail Blazers era. Roy helped to restore the faith of Oregonians that their favorite basketball players would succeed off the court, without sacrificing success on the court. For 5 years, he gave his heart and soul, culminating in a gritty 25-point fourth quarter against the eventual champion Mavericks in last year’s playoffs.
But as much as Roy was placed at the forefront of a new Blazers era, it was Greg Oden who was supposed to put the franchise over the top. After outplaying Florida center Joakim Noah to the tune of 25 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots in the NCAA Championship, Oden was selected first overall by the Blazers in the 2007 NBA Draft. (We are morally obliged to refrain from uttering who went second overall, because that would just make this infinitely more upsetting.) Soon after being drafted, Greg Oden scored the cover of ESPN Magazine. In boldface print, the cover screamed, “I hope I can get a bunch of championships — like 15.” Hope is a beautiful thing; it is so abstract that we latch onto it as if it were concrete. Hope makes us smile, and hope makes us laugh. Hope helps us elect leaders of the free world.
But sometimes, reality pisses on hope’s face as if it were breaking the seal. And in Greg Oden’s case, boy, reality sure had a lot to drink. Before lacing up for his first game, Oden had microfracture surgery on his right knee, forcing him to miss his entire rookie year. The following season, he showed glimpses of being the franchise center he was drafted to be, only to have his season cut short by bumping knees with Mambino-hated Corey Maggette. In Year 3 of the experiment, he left a game on a stretcher, fracturing his left patella tendon…another season over. Last year, Year 4, microfracture surgery to the left knee…deuces to the season again. First-round picks have rookie contracts that extend to four years, maximum, so this summer, there was plenty of debate over whether Oden would come back to Portland. Several teams were willing to invest a year or two in a former #1 overall pick, but Oden ultimately accepted the Blazers’ qualifying offer of almost 9 million dollars. He was grateful for the support that the organization and the fans had shown while he struggled to stay healthy. The lockout even proved to be beneficial for Oden, as he was allowed more time to recover and prepare. As this was happening, the grapevine told us that this was the year…except for the fact that it wasn’t. This past week, Oden and “setback” were going to give marriage another try. He is out indefinitely, and the team is not optimistic about his chances of playing this year.
Why is this a question?

We are fans of the NBA. We rejoice when the Knicks sign Tyson Chandler, and we cry when the Lakers lose Lamar Odom for nothing. But one of the most important parts of being a true NBA fan is sympathizing with other fa… Read more...